Monday, June 30, 2014

The Chemical Engineering Guide to Mango Ripening

He is definitely right.

Of course I would expect him to be right. I'd expect nothing less. to be honest. A PhD graduate from Newcastle University to boot and has been living in Perlis all his life, I would think. Nearly, at the very least.

You need hot and humid weather to successfully plant Harumanis. The coolness of Ulu Langat would not do it. As it is hot in Perlis - I am still trying to find out why it is hot there, I think it is hot in KL too, it is the perfect weather for mangoes. KL is nearer to the equator than Pengelih.

You need 40 C temperature and humidity of 85% for mango trees to prosper, to be precise.

So you are right, Doc Farizul. You have been vindicated by none other than The Chemical Engineers (TCE). TCE for the uninitiated is the official magazine of the Institution of Chemical Engineers (UK).

But there are more to it than just the weather. It explains about ripening mangoes too vis-a-vis Malawi Mangoes. While it talks about temperature and humidity as they would normally be in chemical engineering processes, it talks deeply about Ethylene and CO2, which are very important factor in the ripening process of fruits in general. One need about 50 ppm of Ethylene and 2-3% of CO2 for this process to take off.

To do this, a ripening chamber so that one can control the environment for ripening is built. I am not sure if UniMAP has this or not. Doc, is there one? May be we can build one? ;) Can I send my Chokanan for ripening in your chamber? I will do the lecture for your student yearly FOC!

It also talks about how the ripening process works on positive feedback loop. The more Ethylene is produce, the quicker the ripening process and the more Ethylene is produced, it will get even quicker. I would expect exponential growth in the ripening process.

In our normal non chamber environment that is our house, how do you get the Ethylene required? I don't think I can go to PETRONAS and try and get Ethylene from Ethylene Malaysia plant in Kerteh. No one would sell me such a small amount. There is hardly any Ethane from our LPG for me to produce the double bond Ethylene.

But nature has a quick solution for us.

To quicken the process, get banana into the vicinity of the mango. They produced abundant of Ethylene during their own ripening process and hence it is good for the mangoes. Banana is cheap too, and while waiting for the mangoes to ripen, one can eat the ripe banana!

As the mango ripen, starch is turned into simple sugar as you can see in the chart below - as it ripens, sugar concentration will increase and starch will decrease (red and blue lines respectively in the chart below. But as they as they over ripen and begin to rot, these sugars will be turned into Ethanol (green line in Figure 2).

That's chemical engineering for you albeit one in the food processing area, which is the territory of the departmant of Bioprocessing at UniMAP.

Over to you Doc.


Just in case you are wondering, I am mad about mango. Anything mango is good for me. Mango Cake, Mango icecream, mango juice and obviously the fruit itself.

I love sweet mango, not ones that have a tad of sour taste. Nothing at all, but sweetness all around. Just like my durians - prefer the sweet one with no bitter after taste.

I love the Indian ones, the Vietnamese one. I am so so with the Thai ones; I got no choice with my Chokanan - they are ok. I love the Harumanis. I love the thick mango juices that one gets in Mekah. The Indonesian version is not too bad too.. 

I am hantu Mempelam. Hahaha.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

One Moment in Time

Circa 1966-7, I would think.

But what one earth were we watching or doing?

Or were we just acting at the behest of the photographer aka our dad?

God knows, I would not know. The photographer is long gone. We were too young to know or remember anything. But I believe the location is Batu Gajah, and it must be the bedroom.


My bro and I
My eldest sister - on the right, and her unidentified companion

Monday, June 9, 2014

Tak ada Harumanis, Chokanan pun jadilah

I tried to get some saplings for me to plant in KL, but it was too late to go and find nursery that afternoon.

With the price of Harumanis fruits going up through the roof, the saplings are also expensive nowadays, according to Doc Farizul. IT is only natural, I guess. Next trip, I told him. I must get several for me to bring home and I am sure Harumanis would prosper in hot Kuala LUmpur.

If you think Perlis is hot, KL is even hotter. It is unnatural heat to be honest. Heat from car and air-conditioned buildings. I am sure we have more of those things than Peghelih. If Doc Farizul is correct about the heat making Harumanis prosperous in Peghelih, iit should even be better in KL.
May be in a week or so, if by the grace of Allah, that these are my rezeki,
I would be able to taste my Chokanan. It is reasonably sized fruit
at this stage and it is squatting level to be honest. I'd to trim
the tree to be as similar height to same height as the Harumanis in Perlis
Anyway, I am please to show you my Chokanan in front of my house. It is fruiting. For the second time, I must tell you. So far it has survived itchy hands. No one has touched it and most of the fruits are still hanging on the trees.

Should I wrap it?
What do you think?

Mother of Mine

Mother of mine you gave to me,
all of my life to do as I please,
I owe everything I have to you,
Mother sweet Mother of mine.

Mother of mine when I was young
you showed me the right way things had to be done,
without your arms where would I be,
Mother sweet Mother of mine.

Mother you gave me happiness,
much more than words can say,
I pray the Lord that he may bless you
every night and every day.

Mother of mine now I am grown
and I can walk straight all on my own,
I'd like to give you what you gave to me,
Mother sweet Mother of mine.

Mother of mine now I am grown
and I can walk straight all on my own,
I'd like to give you what you gave to me,
Mother sweet Mother of mine.
Mother sweet Mother of mine.

I remember during the 70s, RTM did a big music concert with many of the majority of the singers from the old days (60s) were involved. This song was sung by Indra Shahrir - the son of Nona Asiah(??), but obviously the Malay version of this classic would be titled Mamaku Sayang.

I like that version too, as it remained etched in my memory.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Visit me again this Ramadhan, Mak


I wrote this in July last year. Specifically last Ramadhan. For some reasons, I did not get to publish and tonight while going through my blog, I realized that I should get this entry in, quickly before it lost its meaning.

And hope that I will see her again.

This Ramadhan, assuming I get to see and experience Ramadhan again, that is.

Here goes.

Credit -

I was awaken immediately after. I felt refreshed. Really refreshed.

It was such a good feeling in the aftermath, so much so I was wide awake afterward, even though the clock says 4.15 am. It was a tad too early to get ready for sahur, so I went to take my ablution.

I had to recite the Quran for her.

In the dream, we were at this wonderful hotel 60 km away from Houston. From the balcony of the hotel, we could see swaying coconut trees and sandy beaches more suited for Hawaii or tropical country than Houston. But I was conscious that we are 60 km from Houston; I said so to someone in my dream.

Mak did not say anything. Not to me, not to anybody. But it was clearly her; her sister MC Kam was around too.

In my subconscious, I was not aware that mak is no longer with us. It was like she was with us - well and alive. It was so normal but it felt like we were on vacation.

So I went down, and started reciting the Quran for her (and bapak). I was really at peace at the wee hours of that morning. It was serene.

Half an hour later, Arif came trotting down. Upon seeing me on the sofa, he immediately announced that he dreamt of Nenek. Nenek according to him was lying on the sofa in our living room. Apparently she had fever. Simple fever, according to him.

I told my sister that may be Mak did come to visit us for the two of us to see her in our dreams. On the same night, at nearly the same time. Who knows; it could be precisely the same time.

After all, it is Ramadan.

Friday 0500 hours
19 July 2013

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Giving back to society - sambil menyelam, makan harumanis

I should be doing more of this.

No, not 'menyelam'. Of course not. Not at this age. It is a tad too late, I have to admit. And I have no desire anymore. In any case, I have never been a water person. I can drown in a bowl of water. LOL.

I am talking back about giving back to society. I am a product of affirmative actions and I need to give back to society.

And of course eating the famous harumanis.

But I have been procrastinating. There are many opportunities, but work schedules and other excuses always crept into the picture.

And my desire to have an easy life.

I am talking about giving back to society of course. I am not talking about every now and then giving alms to the needy. I am talking about giving back to society in a more formal way than doing the occasional alms at the mosques.

I was both relieved and apprehensive when a friend of mine - a lecturer at a small university, called one day to ask me to do a lecture at his department. Relieved in teh sense that now I have an avenue to give back. Apprehensive since I was asked to do thermo, which is not my forte. Never mind that I will be talking to undergraduate students who probably will accept whatever I will say as the Quranic truth.

So instead I tried to chicken my way out by asking another friend.

But in the end, I was told to just give a talk on materials I am comfortable with.
Hj Juares giving lecture to a teh final year students. Mine was the 2nd year
students and hence it is a bigger group
So coupled with the mango season in Perlis, I knew I was going to have fun there.

So for the first time in many years, I was given a flight other than Air Asia and a five star hotel. Something I would not do if I had to pay for them. I am a cheapskate; I care for the company cashflow and profitability. So I travel prudently.

The travel on MAS is eventful to be honest. MAS is on a bad luck run perhaps. I am not a superstitious person. Not at all. But that landing in Alor Star that night was perhaps the worst I had experienced. It landed on the tarmac very hard - a thud to be honest, and immediately we can smell tyres burning in the cabin. My fellow passengers on both side of me looked at each other. We weren't afraid or nervous - we were already on the ground.

Knowing what Arif had told me about landing, I thought the plane ought to be grounded. I don't really know if we had experienced 5G of force while landing; if we did, the aircraft would be grounded and may not able to fly back to KL that night. But the bad luck continue for MAS. I do hope it would end soon.

For the first time in more than a decade, someone was waiting at the airport and would take us to the hotel. It is absurd. It is a a very strange feeling - something I had not felt for a long, long time. Not since Narita, where the Japanese would be waiting for you with a signboard - that's Japanese hospitality for you.

Comfortable and inviting - that's what I like about this hotel and bed.
The hotel is brand new, I believe. Perhaps the best I had stayed for a long, long time. And with reasonable speed wifi available for all guests. What else could I ask for? After all, making the stay even sweeter, it is all paid for.

The next morning, we were picked up by Dr Farizul and headed to the Dept of Bioprocess Engineering. Dr Farizul is a PhD graduate from Newcastle University and I was delighted that he took it upon himself to drive us to the University and the Northern part of Perlis later that afternoon in my most fav brand car.

I would think that the bio-process engineering is basically a chemical engineering department with emphasis to bio processes, but the fundamental is still chemical engineering. But obviously with w degree in bio-process, companies in other fields, say oil and gas, would hesitate in employing them. But that's another story and entry.

I am happy to do my part, no matter how small it is and I think we all should be able to contribute more to the society than doing an all expense paid lecture like the one I did at UNIMAP last week. IT is too easy, though in honesty, it is tough to get out from my daily routine at the office and take a one hour flight up North and get in front of 100 students and do my lecture.

I am not use to standing up in front of students. I told them not to give me a hard time by asking probing questions. I am used to stand in front of my peers or senior in the industry or even lecturing the lecturers in certain topics, but students, I am not used to.

Would we take our own time and money and do lectures for students at the public universities out of our sheer interest in making sure the students would be equipped with whatever is needed in the industry. I wish I can answer yes to that question, but unless I am already in the midst of doing it, I think I would refrain from portraying to you that I am already doing it.

An easier part of giving would be by allowing students to do internship at the office, but that's easy. I don't have to do much other than to agree to take them in.

Anyway, but there is reward for doing good deeds, though I prefer to receive mine in the hereafter. Sometimes you may get something in this world without having to wait, but I hope that the perceived reward in this world would not preclude me from what I hope would be my entitlement in the hereafter.

Here is my reward.
Harumanis with pulut at Titi Tinggi
Aah, heavenly

I could not understand why Perlis is the only state with Harumanis. I am jealous obviously as I can be driving 500 km just to get my share of the sweetest mango in Malaysia. It is too far and even though I can be considered as a hantu mempelam, I won't drive that far for it.

Doc Farizul and Nabil of UNIMAP told me that it could be the heat. Perlis is notoriously hot, they said. As if we in KL:could experience the four seasons. But they may be right. THe radiation in Perlis is such that you would not want to go out all and would rather stay indoor during the day.

If there is a next trip, i would like to get some saplings of Harumanis so that I can try and grow them in wintry Kuala Lumpur. LOL.
Harumanis Farm in Titi Tinggi
Alas we are at the end of the season and coupled with Sukma, price of Harumanis has skyrocketed. IT is not more expensive than the king of fruits - The Musang King. At RM25-30 per kg, I am not sure if many can afford to taste the Harumanis.
ONly the rich can afford Harumanis in Malaysia
Let me give you my opinion on Harumanis. I love the sweet taste of it. There is not a tinge of sour for Harumanis. It is 100% sweet, so for that part I love it so much. The sticky rice is just right, with a tad of salty taste and hence complemented the sweet Harumanis.


Yes, I would plant it in front of house and replace the Chokanan.

But I found that it lacks substance. The flesh is too light for my liking and that eating Harumanis does not fill your mouth up.
The Harumanis research plantation at UNIMAP. Only for the VVIP, according to Doc Farizul.
Apparently they are not VVIP enough and neither was I :)

Or your stomach.

It is kinda melt in your mouth type of fruits. So the moment it is in your mouth, in no time you will lose it to your stomach. It didn't linger on in your mouth for long. So you need to continue eating to have a feel of Harumanis. I wish it is slightly denser and hence it stays longer in your mouth

I have 4 kg at home and may be I will try and compare it with the Indians or Pakistani mangoes.

For now, let me enjoy my RM26 per kg Harumanis as part of my being away from work last week.

Dr Farizul in the middle with Nabil and Ir Hj Juares at the end of the lecture